Congo's health ministry says Ebola spreads to 2nd province

Congo's health ministry says Ebola spreads to 2nd province

The number of confirmed cases in a new Ebola outbreak in Congo has reached 13, including three deaths, the country's health ministry said late Saturday. It's called mAb114 and it's been developed using antibodies from a man who survived Ebola in 1995.

In a bid to halt the virus's lethal advance, DRC health authorities said that doctors in Beni had begun using a prototype drug called mAb114 to treat patients.

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday that he's even more anxious about the latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) after his recent visit to the country, mainly because of the intense security challenge in the virus-hit areas.

The new outbreak became public only days after July 24, when Congo declared its previous Ebola outbreak to be over.

According to World Health Organization's director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who visited the region last week, "All of those participating in the response must be able to move freely and safely in conflict areas to do the work that is needed to bring the outbreak under control".

Referring to the areas where armed groups are operating, he said they could be "hiding places" for the virus. "I call on all warring parties to provide secure access to all responders serving affected populations & saving lives".

Tedros, who travelled to the epicentres of the outbreak in Beni and Mangina in recent days, said he had been very anxious before his trip, but that after the visit "I am actually more anxious". This time the deadly Ebola has struck North Kivu, an area rife with armed conflict and violence that could make the virus even more devastating.

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Use of the experimental treatment in the field comes on the heels of deployment of an unlicensed vaccine in the earlier Ebola outbreak in the DRC this year.

The new outbreak remains a high risk regionally and nationally, but "the risk of worldwide spread is now at low level", Tedros said.

Ebola causes serious illness including vomiting, diarrhea and in some cases internal and external bleeding.

The vaccine played a significant role in halting Ebola's spread in Equateur province, and should also be useful in fighting the new outbreak.

"We have started with health workers, and we have already vaccinated more than 216".

"So the best strategy is to identify infected people, get there rapidly with trained health care workers and get quarantine established quickly", he said.

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